Saturday, September 7, 2013

Remix and Re-purpose

This week I watched several videos about online learning.  They were mostly about the advantages of incorporating online learning at the university level.  I found that the general consensus is that online learning is here to stay.  Also, many educators feel that the online format is simply what students may prefer, since they are the ones that use the technology. 

The issue I see is how can we develop online instruction in such a way that we can reach individual learning styles and ensure an appropriate method of evaluation?  I followed a number of links to pages that offer a broad scope of information about online learning.  One particular link was to a blog by Tony Bates.  He offers insights that can help us understand the need for students to develop learning skills that go beyond the classroom.  He says


It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university.

http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/

Although most of what he says relates to students at the university level, I think students at the high school level could also benefit from this way of thinking.  At the high school, the students bring their communication devices because that is what they use everyday.  Some teachers might view the i Pads and cell phones as objects of distraction, rather than tools for learning.  I have often heard complaints that the students would rather just take a picture of the notes on the white board than to spend time writing them out.  Another complaint is that students are often "caught" texting their friends in other classes than paying attention to the lecture.  I think that if the teachers had the same skills the students have in using these devices, then maybe they would be more open to communicating their ideas in a different format.  Perhaps that lecture could be redesigned into a video, or those notes can be accessed through a class blog.  How much easier for a student to download a PDF. rather than have to laboriously copy vocabulary notes.  Tony Bates says that the Internet can provide a greater avenue for communication between teacher and their students, as well as communication among students.  He recognizes that communication through the Internet is not the only thing that qualifies online learning.  He says

More importantly though than the quantity of communication is the quality. What can instructors – or other students – bring to the conversation that results in deeper learning or different outcomes? To what extent can this added factor be scaled up? 
I scanned a report about how online education is defined by the US Department of Education.  So apparently, public schools that rely of Title IV funding would not be able to qualify for that funding if they offer only online courses. 

I think that most students in the high schools on Guam are ready for at least some online learning.  The question is, are any of the high schools ready?  Are the teachers ready?  Do we have the resources for this kind of change?  Who will initiate a conversation about this at the district level?  Are our high schools shying away from online learning because we may lose federal dollars? There is also the question of protecting student privacy that needs to be addressed.

I scanned and then bookmarked all of the nine steps to quality online learning by Tony Bates.  I hope to read those again later this week.  I would recommend these pages to anyone in this class.  I know it is redundant, since the link is already on the class pages but I thought to provide one on this blog too.
You can find his pages here:  http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/07/09/nine-steps-to-quality-online-learning-step-9-evaluate-and-innovate/

It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf
It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf
It is not a question of filling heads with information, or even developing repeatable skills, but providing students with the ability and skills to continue to learn and develop at a high level of intellectual and social competence as they acquire experience in life outside the university. - See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/09/04/towards-a-theory-or-model-of-productivity-for-online-learning-outcomes-scale-and-design/#sthash.e5IM7IUI.dpuf

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